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Devotion

God of my end, it is my greatest, noblest pleasure to be acquainted with Thee and with my rational, immortal soul; it is sweet and entertaining to look into my being when all my powers and passions are united and engaged in pursuit of Thee, when my soul longs and passionately breathes after conformity to Thee and the full enjoyment of Thee; no hours pass away with so much pleasure as those spent in communion with Thee and with my heart.

O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life is a spirit of holy watchfulness and godly jealousy over myself when my soul is afraid of nothing except grieving and offending Thee, the blessed God, my Father and friend, whom I then love and long to please, rather than be happy in myself! Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper, worthy of the highest ambition, and closest pursuit of intelligent creatures and holy Christians, may my joy derive from glorifying and delighting Thee. I long to fill all my time for Thee, whether at home or in the way; to place all my concerns in Thy hands; to be entirely at Thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own. Help me to live to Thee for ever, to make Thee my last and only end, so that I may never more in one instance love my sinful self.

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.

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Scripture represents God’s character as the same as revealed through his works

March 26, 2014 1 comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Explanation of the knowledge of God resumed. God as manifested in Scripture, the same as delineated in his works.

1. We formerly observed that the knowledge of God, which, in other respects, is not obscurely exhibited in the frame of the world, and in all the creatures, is more clearly and familiarly explained by the word. It may now be proper to show, that in Scripture the Lord represents himself in the same character in which we have already seen that he is delineated in his works. A full discussion of this subject would occupy a large space. But it will here be sufficient to furnish a kind of index, by attending to which the pious reader may be enabled to understand what knowledge of God he ought chiefly to search for in Scripture, and be directed as to the mode of conducting the search. I am not now adverting to the peculiar covenant by which God distinguished the race of Abraham from the rest of the nations. For when by gratuitous adoption he admitted those who were enemies to the rank of sons, he even then acted in the character of a Redeemer. At present, however, we are employed in considering that knowledge which stops short at the creation of the world, without ascending to Christ the Mediator. But though it will soon be necessary to quote certain passages from the New Testament, (proofs being there given both of the power of God the Creator, and of his providence in the preservation of what he originally created,) I wish the reader to remember what my present purpose is, that he may not wander from the proper subject. Briefly, then, it will be sufficient for him at present to understand how God, the Creator of heaven and earth, governs the world which was made by him. In every part of Scripture we meet with descriptions of his paternal kindness and readiness to do good, and we also meet with examples of severity which show that he is the just punisher of the wicked, especially when they continue obstinate notwithstanding of all his forbearance.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 10-Henry Beveridge Translation

Free Ebook: The Consistent Christian

March 25, 2014 3 comments

A Handbook for Christian Living

By William Secker (1660)

 

Contents

Outline ……………………………………………………………………… 4

Preface ……………………………………………………………………… 7

I. Overview

A. The Context and the Text …………………………………. 6

B. Four Sorts of Things in the World. …………………… 8

Doctrines

II. Why a Christian Does More than Others ……………….. 10

III. What a Christian Does More than Others,

Principles 1-10 ………………………………………………. 18

IV. What a Christian Does More than Others

Principles 11-20 …………………………………………….. 40

Applications

V. Principles by which a Believer Should Walk

Principles 1-10 ………………………………………………. 59

VI. Principles by which a Believer Should Walk

Principles 11-20 …………………………………………….. 78

VII. Seven Practices for Those Who Wish to Do More than Others 92

 

The Consistent Christian – Rev. Matthew Wilkes’ edition (published 1867, London) gives the title as The Nonesuch Professor in His Meridian Splendor; or, the Singular Actions of Sanctified Christians, indicating it was “Laid Open in Seven Sermons, at All- Hallows Church, London-Wall.” The terms “nonesuch” and “singular” indicate “unequaled in excellence.”

 

 

Download here.

The Regulative Principle of the Church 5: Its Ecclesiastical Framework (Part 2)

The Special Character of the Church of God as the Place of His Special Presence—Matthew 18:20

 

Matthew 18:15-20 is one of the first two passages in the New Testament where the term church is used, and it contains the first explicit mention of the local church in the New Testament. It culminates in the great promise of v. 20. Very obviously this is a promise of the special presence of Christ. Please notice three things about this promise.

Its Specified Limitation

The promise of v. 20 comes attached to a very plain condition or limitation, “For where two or three have gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” The stated limitation found in these words is the assembling of the local church, the formal or public gathering of the people of God. Upon what grounds do I assert that these words specify the assembling of the local church? Let me set three grounds for this assertion before you.

The first is the context assumed in v. 20a. The passage from verse 17 on deals with the local church. The “two or three” mentioned in v. 20, then, is simply a graphic way of emphasizing that even the smallest conceivable local church possesses this great promise of Christ.

 

Read the entire article here.

Keeping the Sabbath aides one’s health

March 25, 2014 1 comment

Arthur PinkOne of the basic laws of health is the Sabbatic statute.

 

“The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27),

 

for his good, because he needed it. It was made for man that he might be a man, something more than a beast of burden or a human treadmill. His body needs it as truly as does his soul. This has been unmistakably demonstrated in this country. When France collapsed and the British Isles faced the most desperate crisis of their long history, the government foolishly ordered that those in the coal mines and munitions factories must work seven days a week, but they soon learned that the workmen produced less than they did in six days—they could not stand up to the additional strain.

By resting from manual toil on the Sabbath man is enabled to recuperate his strength for the labors of the week lying ahead, yet that cannot be accomplished by attending one meeting after another on that day, nor by exhausting one’s strength through lengthy walks to and from the services—moving the tent nearer the altar is the remedy—still less by profaning the Sabbath in carnal “recreation.” Another Divine precept which promotes health is, “he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16). Side by side with the speeding tempo of modern life we behold the multiplying nervous disorders, and those who are murdered or maimed on the highway. For many years we have avoided motor cars, buses and trains whenever the distance to be covered was not too great to walk, not using them more than two or three times in a twelve-month. Rushing around, hurrying and scurrying hither and thither, is not only injurious but a violation of the Divine rule:

 

“He that hasteth with his feet sinneth” (Proverbs 19:2) —which means exactly what it says.

“Take therefore no anxious thought for the morrow” (Matthew 6:34).

 

How good health is promoted by obedience to this precept scarcely needs pointing out. It is carking care and worry which disturbs the mind, affects circulation, impairs digestion, and prevents restful sleep. If the Christian would cast all his care on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7) what freedom from anxiety would be his.

 

“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

 

—physically as well as spiritually. What a tome to a wearied body and tired mind it is to delight ourselves in the Lord:

 

“a merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17: 22).

 

“My son, attend to My words… for they are life unto those that find them and health to all his flesh” (Proverbs 4:20, 22):

 

do we really believe this?

 

“Fear the Lord and depart from evil: it shall be health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones” (Proverbs 3:7, 8).

 

Arthur W. Pink-Divine Healing-Is It Scriptural?

An Inalienable Right to Grace?

March 24, 2014 4 comments

By R. C. Sproul

My favorite illustration of how callous we have become with respect to the mercy, love, and grace of God comes from the second year of my teaching career, when I was given the assignment of teaching two hundred and fifty college freshman an introductory course on the Old Testament. On the first day of the class, I gave the students a syllabus and I said: “You have to write three short term papers, five pages each. The first one is due September 30 when you come to class, the second one October 30, and the third one November 30. Make sure that you have them done by the due date, because if you don’t, unless you are physically confined to the infirmary or in the hospital, or unless there is a death in the immediate family, you will get an F on that assignment. Does everybody understand that?” They all said, “Yes.”

On September 30, two hundred and twenty-five of my students came in with their term papers. There were twenty-five terrified freshmen who came in trembling. They said: “Oh, Professor Sproul, we didn’t budget our time properly. We haven’t made the transition from high school to college the way we should have. Please don’t flunk us. Please give us a few more days to get our papers finished.”

I said: “OK, this once I will give you a break. I will let you have three more days to get your papers in, but don’t you let that happen again.”

“Oh, no, we won’t let it happen again,” they said. “Thank you so, so, so much.”

Then came October 30. This time, two hundred students came with their term papers, but fifty students didn’t have them. I asked, “Where are your papers?”

They said: “Well, you know how it is, Prof. We’re having midterms, and we had all kinds of assignments for other classes. Plus, it’s homecoming week. We’re just running a little behind. Please give us just one more chance.”

I asked: “You don’t have your papers? Do you remember what I said the last time? I said, ‘Don’t even think about not having this one in on time.’ And now, fifty of you don’t have them done.”

“Oh, yes,” they said, “we know.”

I said: “OK. I will give you three days to turn in your papers. But this is the last time I extend the due date.”

Do you know what happened? They started singing spontaneously, “We love you, Prof Sproul, oh, yes, we do.” I was the most popular professor on that campus.

But then came November 30. This time one hundred of them came with their term papers, but a hundred and fifty of them did not. I watched them walk in as cool and as casual as they could be. So I said, “Johnson!”

“What?” he replied.

“Do you have your paper?”

“Don’t worry about it, Prof,” he responded. “I’ll have it for you in a couple of days.”

I picked up the most dreadful object in a freshman’s experience, my little black grade book. I opened it up and I asked, “Johnson, you don’t have your term paper?”

He said, “No”

I said, “F,” and I wrote that in the grade book. Then I asked, “Nicholson, do you have your term paper?” “No, I don’t have it.” “F. Jenkins, where is your term paper?”

“I don’t have it.”

“F.”

Then, out of the midst of this crowd, someone shouted, “That’s not fair.” I turned around and asked, “Fitzgerald, was that you who said that?”

He said, “Yeah, it’s not fair.”

I asked, “Weren’t you late with your paper last month?”

“Yeah,” he responded.

“OK, Fitzgerald, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. If it’s justice you want, it’s justice you will get.” So I changed his grade from October to an F. When I did that, there was a gasp in the room. I asked, “Who else wants justice?” I didn’t get any takers.

There was a song in the musical My Fair Lady titled “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” Well, those students had grown accustomed to my grace. The first time they were late with their papers, they were amazed by grace. The second time, they were no longer surprised; they basically assumed it. By the third time, they demanded it. They had come to believe that grace was an inalienable right, an entitlement they all deserved.

I took that occasion to explain to my students: “Do you know what you did when you said, ‘That’s not fair’? You confused justice and grace.” The minute we think that anybody owes us grace, a bell should go off in our heads to alert us that we are no longer thinking about grace, because grace, by definition, is something we don’t deserve. It is something we cannot possibly deserve. We have no merit before God, only demerit. If God should ever, ever treat us justly outside of Christ, we would perish. Our feet would surely slip.

——————————————————————————–

 

Excerpt from R.C. Sproul’s contribution in Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God. Available in the Ligonier store.

 

 

Source [Ligonier Ministries]

A Brief Definition of Calvinism

March 24, 2014 2 comments

Every so often I will get an email or comment on my blog, that will seek to warn me of God’s impending judgment, if I continue to use the term ‘Calvinism’ to describe my theological views concerning scripture. This email will invoke 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 against me and state that we are not to divide ourselves into different sects by being followers of certain men of whom God called out. Now I do agree that it is divisive to separate into different groups and claim to be this man’s disciple or that man’s disciple. This is what Paul was addressing in the letter to the Corinthians. Nevertheless, those who send these emails have no understanding what it means when I use the term ‘Calvinism.’

There are three definitions that one could use when using the term Calvinism. In a short Pdf by Ben Dally he identifies three concepts that people think of when the term ‘Calvinism’ is used:

“To begin, “Calvinism” represents different things in the minds of different people. For some, the term denotes simply what is contained in the writings of John Calvin himself, primarily as expressed in his final edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, his expansive biblical commentary, and his other treatises on various subjects and pieces of correspondence. To others, Calvinism is primarily to be understood as the doctrinal system espoused by those who deem themselves the “Reformed” churches in distinction from Lutheranism, Anabaptism, and other progeny of what might be loosely grouped together under the term “Protestant.” This generally coherent doctrinal system (though certainly not entirely uniform in every detail), as expressed in various Reformed formulas and confessions, is primarily acknowledged to have been derived from the teachings of John Calvin. Perhaps its most general (and most well known) formulation was composed at the Synod of Dort in 1618, in response to the Five Points of Arminianism derived from the teachings of Jacobus Arminius and his followers. A third and perhaps the most broad definition of Calvinism, according to B. B. Warfield, is “the entire body of conceptions, theological, ethical, philosophical, social, political, which, under the influence of the master mind of John Calvin, raised itself to dominance in the Protestant lands of the post-Reformation age, and has left a permanent mark not only upon the thought of mankind, but upon the life-history of men, the social order of civilized peoples, and even the political organization of States.” 5 Obviously there is great overlap among these three definitions; however, for sake of clarity and for the purpose of this article, Calvinism will be defined in accordance with the second definition given above, most popularly known as TULIP, the “Five Points of Calvinism,” or the doctrines of grace. We will briefly define and expound these points and then trace some of the practical implications of these basic Calvinistic propositions.” 1

 

I also use the second definition of Calvinism given by Dally in the quote above. To me Calvinism is a theological system and not merely an idolatrous term that seeks to provoke men to bow at the altar of a certain man. As one who identifies themselves as a Reformed Baptist, I hold to much of what Calvinism teaches. Calvinism could easily be called Augustinianism, Paulinism, or Christianity. When I use the term Calvinism I am not bowing down to a man, who was a great theologian, but rather identifying my theological convictions over and against erroneous views which have arisen within Christianity known as Pelagianism, Cassianism, Arminianism, and Roman Catholicism.

 

Augustus Toplady stated concerning Calvinism:

“Time has been when the Calvinistic doctrines were considered and defended as the Palladium of our Established Church; by her bishops and clergy, by the universities, and the whole body of the laity. It was (during the reigns of Edward VI, Queen Elizabeth, James I, and the greater part of Charles I) as difficult to meet with a clergyman who did not preach the doctrines of the Church of England, as it is now to find one who does. We have generally forsaken the principles of the Reformation, and Ichabod, or ‘the glory is departed,’ has been written on most of our pulpits and church-doors ever since.” 2

 

Charles Spurgeon stated concerning Calvinism:

“I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it.

But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.” 3

 

So for those who do not know what the term ‘Calvinism’ means, I suggest they download the Pdf below and read Dally’s definition of the term.

 

(1) A Brief Definition of Calvinism by Ben Dally

 

(2) The Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner-Quoted from the preface of Zanchius’ Predestination Pg. 16

 

(3) A Defense of Calvinism by Charles H. Spurgeon